New Volume of the Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association

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Read the new volume of Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association on “inalienable wealth” in AnthroSource!

“Inalienable possessions,” as conceptualized by Annette Weiner (1985, 1992), are objects imbued with meaning and value based on the social identity of the original and subsequent owners. They maintain attachment to their owner- even when passed to other individuals- although this attachment may not always be physical. These objects also contain embedded histories and knowledge and legitimate identity and authority. According to Weiner (1985):

The primary value of inalienability, however, is expressed through the power these objects have to define who one is in an historical sense. The object acts as a vehicle for bringing past time into the present, so that the histories of ancestors, titles, or mythological events become an intimate part of a person’s present identity. To lose this claim to the past is to lose part of who…

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